Islanders take supportive, uplifting approach via social media during coronavirus pandemic
On March 12, the NHL paused its season as the coronavirus pandemic spread quickly throughout the United States.
The Islanders immediately released a statement that said the health and safety of players, fans, and staff are their top priority.
“We will continue to stay in touch with medical experts, the NHL office and government officials to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” the statement read.
For three days, the Islanders were quiet on social media as the world endured a generational outbreak that hit the New York region considerably hard. As of Friday, March 27 at noon there were almost 50,000 positive cases of coronavirus in the tri-state area.
On March 16, the team’s Twitter account changed its timeline photo and began using the hashtag #UnitedAsOne.
“We miss hockey,” the team wrote. “Most of all, we miss you. We appreciate your support during this unprecedented time. We look forward to seeing you again when the game we love returns. Until then, stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay positive. We’re in this together."
The social media, marketing and community relations teams adjusted their content plans immediately once COVID-19 crisis hit.
“Our fanbase is so incredibly passionate about the Islanders and communicating with them is something we look forward to doing every day,” said Rachel Dixon, director of social and digital for the Islanders. “During these unprecedented times, it’s just as important to continue providing engaging content. With everything we have done and will continue to implement, it’s the fans driving the content by their interactions. They’re the ones that keep us all united during these tough times.”
Ethan Brown, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Community Relations, said the team had conversations with fans who had a clear interest in connecting with the team and one another.
“As an organization, we decided that we would take a proactive approach and use our social and digital media platforms to bring our Islanders family together as one community and one team,” said Brown. “The Islanders fan base is like family to us. When the NHL announced that the 2019-20 season was paused, we knew our fans would be disappointed and would miss following the team and its journey towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We have all been challenged with being confined to our homes, practicing social distancing.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz shared a selfie style message on Twitter about social distancing.
“Everyone stay safe, listen to our leaders, practice your social distancing and hopefully we’ll see you back at the rink in a short time,” he said. “These are unprecedented times and we want to make sure that everyone is safe.”
The social team subbed out daily game prep and recap content for coronavirus fixtures like printables for kids to color, daily challenges with fun and engaging activities, retweets about health and preparedness from Northwell Health, a user generated campaign about passing the puck, and digital backdrops for fans to use on Zoom video conferences.
Check the comment thread on almost every post and you’ll see community members sharing their art, and images from their video chats.
The personal words of encouragement from players have been captivating for fans waiting for any piece of unique entertainment on their digital devices as non-essential workers are in self quarantine.
Team captain Anders Lee targeted kids with a message.
“Your teachers, your parents, your coaches all want what’s best for you and that’s your heath and their health,” he said.
Cal Clutterbuck was with his own kids at home in the driveway and was thankful for child care workers and parents or “anyone who deals with kids all day every day.”
Casey Czikas thanked medical professionals on the front lines.
“I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, volunteers and everyone working to get this right and putting their lives at risk,” he said. “It’s massive and we wouldn’t be anywhere without you guys.”
Matt Martin stole the show with tips on how to stay busy at home. He let his dog chase him while he wore a Boomer Esiason Bengals jersey and helmet. Esiason, a Long Island native from East Islip and former NFL quarterback, is his father-in-law.
Again, in recent days Isles social reminded fans they were missed.